Syrian fighter jet downed in Aleppo province

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Note: This article has been updated with references to Al Nusrah Front’s video of the captured pilot and other information.

A Syrian fighter jet was downed in the Aleppo province earlier today. “A warplane was exposed to [a] surface-to-air missile during its reconnaissance mission over the countryside of Aleppo which led to its downfall,” the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported. SANA, which is the Syrian government’s propaganda arm, blamed “terrorist organizations” and said “work is underway to rescue” the pilot, who parachuted from the plane before it crashed.

Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, has released a video of the plane’s wreckage. The video also shows the pilot being questioned about his mission. A screen shot of the pilot can be seen above.

Ahrar al Sham, an al Qaeda-linked group, has claimed responsibility on its official Twitter feed for bringing down the warplane. There are conflicting reports concerning how the plane was hit.

A self-declared al Qaeda operative known as Abu Saeed al Hollandi tweeted earlier today that Ahrar al Sham had claimed credit even before the group released any official statements. According to al Hollandi, Al Nusrah Front took custody of the jet’s pilot shortly after he parachuted from the burning plane.

Al Hollandi said that Al Nusrah was investigating which party was responsible for downing the SU-22, but this may not in fact be true. Al Nusrah works closely with Ahrar al Sham, which is itself linked to al Qaeda, on the battlefield. It is likely that Al Nusrah already knew that Ahrar was responsible. In fact, it is possible that the organizations worked together on the attack.

Screen shots of Abu Saeed al Hollandi’s tweets, including a photo of the pilot, can be seen below.

Ahrar al Sham has also posted photos of the plane’s wreckage and a video that appears to show the jet moments after being hit. Ahrar’s tweets and photos can also be seen below.

Some jihadist Twitter feeds have even posted photos of people taking selfies with the “hero” who allegedly fired the missile.

The plane crashed near Talat al-‘Iss in southern Aleppo. Al Nusrah and its allies overran the hill and a nearby village just days ago in a newly-launched offensive. [See LWJ report, Al Nusrah Front, allies launch offensive south of Aleppo.]

Al Nusrah and other rebels are attempting to regain the initiative from the Assad regime and its battlefield partners, who have advanced under the cover of Russian air power since last fall.

Abu Saeed al Hollandi’s tweets:

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Ahrar al Sham’s photos and tweets:

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Ahrar al Sham photo of downed Syrian jet 2

Ahrar al Sham photo of downed Syrian jet

Ahrar al Sham claims responsibility for downing Syrian jet April 5, 2016

A selfie with the jihadist who allegedly brought down the SU-22:

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 9.49.02 AM

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • ulises says:


  • Martin Glaubitz says:

    Who supplied this “surface to air missile”? Turkey? Saudi-Arabia? Would be interesting to know…

  • Jihadi Johnny says:

    Do not underestimate these rag tat soldiers by saying that the SAM was supplief by Turkey, Saudi….That SAM was taken from SAA after one of the battles. If you have a tiniest intention to crush these rebel, go study their published videos. After studying countless jihadi videos, I came to that idea that the rebel have capture warehouse of ammos & SAMs.

  • Jon Z says:

    There are a lot of loose, soviet era manpads out there. The self defense systems on an old SU-22 are marginal, if they are even installed, stocked and operating. It doesn’t take the latest gear to do this.

    What’s more, recently Syrians have figured out how to use old, pc batteries to replace the thermal salt batteries on SA-7 systems. This means many, previously useless SA-7s can be returned to service and with much more time for untrained operators to engage a plane. Luckily, this field-rig doesn’t work on newer, angrier MANPADS like SA-18.

    Anyway, my point is that long periods of conflict make the airspace below 20000 feet more hazardous over time whether by local improvisation or foreign influence.

  • Jon Z says:

    At some point, someone will post a photo of grinning crew posing with their gear. That photo will reveal the information you want.

  • Dirk D says:

    That was my first thought…if Al-Nusra or their allies have SAMs available to them it could be a game changer. I would guess this plane was brought down by a MANPAD as a fully functioning SAM site would be a tasty target for Syrian AMRAAMS.

  • Dan says:

    Regardless of who shot it down, what is known is that AQ has a SAM capability..

    Obama, reap the whirlwind..

  • Arjuna says:

    Poor pilot. Should have bit the bullet.
    Twitter and Facebook are jihadi propaganda and weapons sale (including SAMs) platforms.
    Their executives should be held personally liable.


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